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Picture Books That Showcase Diverse Holiday Traditions

Here are just a few of my faves...


In many households, holidays and traditions play a crucial role in shaping beliefs, experiences, and identity. As we gear up for the holiday season, it's vital to acknowledge the diverse array of celebrations available for exploration.


I firmly believe that children with an awareness, understanding, and appreciation of various cultures are poised to become compassionate, kind, and empathetic adults. To facilitate this cultural exploration for young minds, I've compiled a list of books that skillfully introduce children to a variety of holiday cultures and traditions.


Let's dive in!




by Gary Soto, illustrated by Ed Martinez


Christmas Eve started out so perfectly for Maria. Snow had fallen and the streets glittered. Maria's favorite cousins were coming over and she got to help make the tamales for Christmas dinner. It was almost too good to be true when her mother left the kitchen for a moment and Maria got to try on her beautiful diamond ring . . .


This is the story of a treasure thought to be lost in a batch of tamales; of a desperate and funny attempt by Maria and her cousins to eat their way out of trouble; and the warm way a family pulls together to make it a perfect Christmas after all.



Together for Kwanzaa

by Juwanda G. Ford, illustrated by Shelly Hehenberger


Kwanzaa is Kayla’s favorite time of year. But this year, it looks as if a heavy snowstorm will keep her big brother, Khari, from getting home in time for the festivities! Will Khari miss the celebration completely? Or will Kayla and her brother somehow find a way to be together for Kwanzaa?


A perfect introduction to Kwanzaa, this book will teach children all about the traditions and practices that make it a special winter holiday.



Latke's and Applesauce

by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Kris Easler


The Menashes love latkes and applesauce during Hanukkah. But a blizzard begins and erases any hope that they’ll harvest potatoes and apples in time. When a stray cat and dog show up, there’s not a lot of food to offer them, but kindness prevails, and they’re invited in. It turns out that the dog—Latke—and the cat—Applesauce—save the day.



Binny's Diwali

by Thrity Umrigar, illustrated by Nidhi Chanani


Binny woke up happy but nervous. It was her day to share about Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights!


Binny is excited to talk to her class about her favorite holiday. But she struggles to find the words. Taking a deep breath, she tells her classmates about the fireworks that burst like stars in the night sky, leaving streaks of gold and red and green. She shares with them delicious pedas and jalebis. And she shows them clay lamps, called diyas, which look so pretty all the children ooh and aah.



Celebrate - Celebramos Las Posadas

by Marisa Boan


In Mexico, Guatemala, and even in some parts of the United States, the time between December 16 and December 24 is called Las Posadas. For nine nights, families re-enact Mary and Joseph's journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the birth of baby Jesus. The holiday season is full of wonderful festivities.


Each year there are big celebrations! Homes are decorated with nativity scenes and streets are lit with twinkling luminaries to light the way. The celebrations include parades, songs, piñatas, and delicious foods.


Night of the Moon

by Hena Khan, illustrated by Julie Paschkis


Now in paperback, this sweet tale follows Yasmeen, a seven-year-old Pakistani-American girl, as she celebrates the Muslim holidays of Ramadan, "The Night of the Moon" (Chaand Raat), and Eid.


With lush illustrations that evoke Islamic art, this beautiful story offers a peek into modern Muslim culture—and into the ancient roots of its most cherished traditions.




La Noche Before Three Kings Day

by Sheila Colón-Bagley, illustrated by Alejandro Mesa


It’s almost Three Kings Day, and while the grownups prepare a large meal, the kids prepare their shoe boxes for los Reyes to arrive later that night. Will they stay up late enough to wish the Kings a Feliz Día de los Reyes? Or will the magic pass them by?


Sing along with a great big familia as they fill up their platos, play their favorite juegos, and wait for the three kings and regalitos to arrive. This enchanting celebration of a beloved holiday is brought to life through lively rhyming dual-lingual text by Sheila Colón-Bagley with festive illustrations from Alejandro Mesa.



The Shortest Day

by Wendy Pfeffer, illustrated by Jesse Reisch


The science, history, and cultural significance of the shortest day of the year: The Winter Solstice!


The beginning of winter is marked by the solstice, the shortest day of the year. Long ago, people grew afraid when each day had fewer hours of sunshine than the day before. Over time, they realized that one day each year the sun started moving toward them again. In lyrical prose and cozy illustrations, this book explains what the winter solstice is and how it has been observed by various cultures throughout history. Many contemporary holiday traditions were borrowed from ancient solstice celebrations.



Playing with Lanterns

by Wang Yage, illustrated by Zhu Chengliang


The science, history, and cultural significance of the shortest day of the year: The Winter Solstice!


The beginning of winter is marked by the solstice, the shortest day of the year. Long ago, people grew afraid when each day had fewer hours of sunshine than the day before. Over time, they realized that one day each year the sun started moving toward them again. In lyrical prose and cozy illustrations, this book explains what the winter solstice is and how it has been observed by various cultures throughout history. Many contemporary holiday traditions were borrowed from ancient solstice celebrations.


For more suggestions and purchase links, visit my Amazon storefront.





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